Hartal and pre-hartal violence has left at least one person dead, nine people burnt and over 120 people injured.
Pro-hartal pickets hurled a petrol bomb inside a packed human haulier, burning six of its passengers in Laxmi Bazar of Old Dhaka around 9:00pm yesterday, the first day of the opposition’s 84-hour shutdown.
The injured were rushed to the burn unit of Dhaka Medical College Hospital. Of them, Montu Chandra Paul, 32, a jeweller by profession, has suffered burns on around 90 percent of his body.
The other injured are Kamal Hossain with nearly 25 percent of his body burnt, Muktar Mondol with 15 percent and Sagor Das, Mintu Das, Swapna Mondol and Mukta Mondol with less than five percent.
After the horrifying death of 14-year-old Monir on Thursday, who was burnt by pickets in Gazipur, 13-year-old Ronny and 10-year-old Shimul became the latest child victims of arson carried out in similar fashion.
Pro-hartal supporters set fire to a parked bus in Mirpur in the capital around dawn yesterday. Ronny, who worked as the bus helper, was inside during the attack. With flames all around him, the teenager somehow managed to break a window with his foot and get out.
Shimul was trapped in a human haulier, which the hartal-makers set fire to around 10:00pm on Sat Mashjid Road in the capital. Not caring about injuries to himself, pedestrian Mishor Khan got the child out of the burning vehicle.
Shimul had 15 percent of his body blistered and was taken to DMCH. The boy was apparently alone in the human haulier and he could not say more than his name and age before he passed out at DMCH.
Harunur Rashid, 32, a rental car driver, was trying to get back to Mymensingh town after dropping off his client out of town on the eve of the hartal on Saturday.
Around 8:30pm, pro-hartal supporters hurled brick chunks and eventually a Molotov cocktail at his microbus near the town.
Montu, Kamal, Muktar, Harun, Shimul and Ronny were in critical condition with burn injuries at DMCH.
In Chittagong, University of Science and Technology Chittagong employee Nirmal Das was killed when the auto-rickshaw he was travelling on flipped over as it was trying to get away from angry pickets at Madunaghat area of Hathazari around 8:20am yesterday, our correspondent reported.
A total of 120 hours of strikes in the last two weeks had left at least 18 people killed and scores more injured in hartal violence. In line with previous shutdowns, the hartal yesterday was marked by clashes across the country.
Yesterday, activists of the BNP-led 18-party opposition alliance clashed with ruling Awami League men and law enforcers in several districts. The opposition men also resorted to arson and vandalism, leaving many injured, reported our district correspondents.
In Dhaka, hartal supporters set fire to a ward unit office of the Awami League in Demra and torched six vehicles in Dhanmondi, Mirpur and Laxmi Bazar, and Kaliakoir and Ashulia at the edge of Dhaka.
They set off homemade bombs in front of New Market and Pallabi police stations, and in Nayapaltan, Mohakhali, Badda and Hatirjheel areas.
Pickets yesterday also hurled a crude bomb at the Uttara home of Workers Party Bangladesh President Rashed Khan Menon, MP.
A cameraperson of Channel 24 was injured when pickets exploded a crude bomb at Kalyanpur in the morning.
Criminals also hurled two bombs at the office of daily Karatoa on Chokjadu Road in Bogra around 6:30pm, but no one was hurt.
Meanwhile, police recovered about 200 homemade bombs and bomb-making materials and arrested four alleged Jamaat-Shibir activists at a house in Kathalbagan area late last night.
They also seized books on jihad found in the house known as a mess for bachelors, said Assistant Sub-Inspector Shahidul Islam of Kalabagan Police Station.
Rail communications between Dhaka and the north and south had been suspended for five and a half hours after criminals cut off 18 inches of a rail line near Ishwardi station early yesterday.
Trains running between Dhaka and Rangpur, Rajshahi, Lalmonirhat, Nilphamari, Bogra, Naogaon, Joypurhat, Sirajganj, Gaibandha, Dinajpur, Khulna, Chuadanga, Kushtia and Jessore were affected.
At least 50 BNP activists and two policemen were injured during clashes on TA Road and in Shimrailkandi area of Brahmanbaria yesterday.
Witnesses said when police arrested BNP district General Secretary Jahirul Haque Khokan at Shimrailkandi, hundreds of opposition activists gathered there and exploded several crude bombs.
They vandalised shops and motorbikes and threw brick chunks at police, who retaliated with 300 rubber bullets and teargas shells, police said.
At least 19 people were hurt at Baghmara-Shishua bridge area of Sarishabari in Jamalpur yesterday during a clash. Eight activists of BNP and Awami League and a child sustained bullet injuries.
The clash started when local Awami League men tried to stop opposition men from picketing around noon.
In Kishoreganj, a clash between Awami League and BNP activists left at least 50 people, including seven policemen, injured at Pulerghat Bazar. The clash erupted when the ruling party men tried to stop opposition activists from bringing out a procession.
Clashes also left 12 injured in Natore, 10 each in Feni and Noakhali. There were also reports of explosions, vandalism, road blockades, arson and arrests in Chandpur, Satkhira, Bogra, Jhenidah, Gazipur, Madaripur, Narayanganj, Dinajpur, Faridpur, Barisal, Bhola and Sylhet.
Police in Chittagong said BNP activist Mohammed Sahabuddin, 40, lost his hand from the wrist down when a bomb he was making went off in Rangunia upazila. He was arrested around 1:30pm, three hours after the bomb had exploded.
Three long hartals in three weeks in a row were taking its toll on the communication sector, industries, education and the economy.
Long-distance buses stayed put and a handful of city buses were seen on the streets, with people struggling to get into them whenever they stopped.
Kitchen market traders with small investments seemed to be the hardest hit with poor supply and high prices.
The 19 lakh Junior School Certificate and Junior Dakhil Certificate examinees were again going through uncertainty. Two of their tests had already been deferred because of last week’s hartal and this shutdown forced the government to reschedule five more exams.
Zyma Islam, Shaheen Mollah, Wasim Bin Habib, Tamanna Khan and our district correspondents contributed to this report.